European-Style Christmas Markets in the Midwest
When the Thanksgiving leftovers are chilling in the fridge and yuletide cheer is tangible, a classic Christmas tradition springs up across the region: European-style Christmas markets. The heritage of these old-world, open-air markets dates back centuries, giving local and international artisans the opportunity to peddle their steaming, spiced, glazed and glassy wares.
Christkindlmarket Chicago claims the festive trophy of "the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe" for good reason. This Bavarian-style winter shopping wonderland drew inspiration from first-hand research in Nuremberg, Germany, 25 years ago. Today, international and local vendors gather in Daley Plaza to show off their craftsmanship under timber roofs and colorful fairy lights, typically drawing over one million visitors (November 18-December 24, 2022).
Christmas in Germany, Omaha
On December 4, 2022, Nebraska's beloved German Christmas Market becomes a spirited display of holiday cheer. Expect a 25-foot tree adorned with hand-carved ornaments, Glühwein, carol-singing, a Christkindl Market and authentic treats.
Kerstmarkt, Holland, Michigan
Would we expect anything less than ample Dutch comfort and joy from a town called Holland? At Holiday Kerstmarkt, vendors stock booths with steaming baked goods, pottery, hand-knit sweaters, jewelry and (obviously) Dutch treats. Running weekends from November 19 to December 10, 2022, at the Eighth Street Marketplace, Kerstmarkt attracts visitors from across the nation. Highlights include a parade of lights, live music, food trucks, dogsled demonstrations and an appearance by the jolly Sinterklaas.
Christkindlmarkt, Frankenmuth, Michigan
As the holidays approach, Frankenmuth looks to its sister region of Germany for inspiration, transforming into the largest regional ChristKindlMarkt (November 25-27, December 2-4 and December 9-11, 2022). Frankenmuth has been fondly referred to as "Christmas Town, USA" by locals and visitors; for the holidays, the town welcomes 40-plus vendors to set up shop, including the pop-up bar Christmas Town Pub, which serves warm Glühwein, Frankenmuth Brewery's Christmas Town Ale and hot cocoa. Pair the drinks with a sauerkraut-heavy brat and a hearty cup of soup with generously buttered bread. Rumor has it that St. Nick will be making an appearance for family photo ops.
European Christmas Market, St. Paul
Grab the hand of someone you love (or at least want to shop with) and stuff the other one with a doughy treat at St. Paul's European Christmas Market at Union Depot, the only gathering of its kind in the state. For four consecutive weekends starting November 25, 2022, visitors can browse 60 kiosks. Special events include a tree-lighting ceremony, Irish dancing, bake sale and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train arrival and concert.
Kerstmarkt, Pella, Iowa
The sophomore rendition of Pella's Dutch Kerstmarkt draws inspiration from outdoor markets in the Netherlands. Holiday vendors will set up shop from December 1-3, 2022, in Molengracht Plaza, a downtown replica of a Dutch canal. Nibble on sweet and savory pannekoeken (Dutch pancakes), fresh-popped kettle corn and barbecue while browsing hand-painted arts and crafts. The event is held in conjunction with Pella's Christmas Tour of Homes.
Old World Christmas Market, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Immersive is the name of the Christmas game at the 2022 Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort (December 2-11, 2022). A Christmas shopping bazaar lies beneath a (heated) tent filled with glass ornaments, hand-carved nutcrackers, stained glass art, fresh green wreaths, fine chocolates and probably everything listed in "The 12 Day of Christmas." The Old World Food Court offers hot Glühwein, dumplings, schnitzel and apple strudel. Besides enjoying shopping and treats, guests can hop on a horse-drawn wagon and grab a photo (and possibly brunch) with St. Nicholas and his reindeer.
Germania Society's Annual Christkindlmarkt, Cincinnati
Cincinnati's Germania Society boosts the local Christmas spirit at Christkindlmarkt, the oldest and most authentic of its kind in the area. This market is truly a bite-sized piece of Germany—the covered pavilion transforms into a winter wonderland stuffed with bier steins, cuckoo clocks, Schwibbogen (candle arches) and mesmerizing rotating candle holder carousels. Traditional wursts, soups and Bavarian pastries are plentiful, and featured events include appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Christkind and St. Nikolaus; a lantern parade; and petting zoo. But it's not all beeswax candles and wool mittens—Krampus, the alpine Christmas villain, may also be strolling the grounds (November 4-6, 2022).